The House and Senate approved the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (H.R.3877) on July 25 and August 1, respectively. This bill prevents scheduled discretionary cuts from taking effect and increases limits on discretionary spending. Additionally, it suspends the debt ceiling until August 1, 2021. The House of Representatives is likely to revisit its previously approved appropriations bills in order to reduce funding to comply with these caps. The Senate has been waiting for a budget deal before drafting its fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations bills. The new fiscal year begins on October 1, making it likely that a continuing resolution will be needed.
On July 18, the Administration and Congressional leaders announced an agreement on topline budget numbers for the next two fiscal years as well as to increase the debt ceiling. The deal would avert the scheduled nearly 10% cut in discretionary programs that include housing, employment, education, transportation, and many other disability-related programs for Fiscal Year 2020. As leaders work to identify offsets to cover the costs of this deal, disability advocates are working to ensure that offsets do not come at the expense of other programs that benefit people with disabilities.
On June 19, the House of Representatives approved H.R.2740 with a vote of 226-203. It contained four appropriations bills, including the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-Ed) bill. The package is not expected to pass the Senate as written due to the cost and controversial policy language. The White House has threatened to veto it.
On May 8, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) bill. The bill provides $189.9 billion in funding, a 7% increase over FY 2019. Most of The Arc’s priority programs received increases. Particularly notable increases include the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B State Grants (8.1%), Lifespan Respite Care Program (33.8%), State Grants to Remove Barriers to Voting (28.7%), and Rehabilitation Services Administration Demonstration and Training Programs (26.5%). Funding levels for The Arc’s priority programs can be found here. Senate Appropriators, meanwhile, have declined to move forward with spending bills until a deal is reached to increase the spending caps for discretionary programs. Absent a deal, the spending cap for all non-defense discretionary programs would be reduced by 9% for FY 2020.
On April 30, the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED) approved its funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The bill provides $189.8 billion in funding, a 7% increase over FY 2019. It includes several increases of interest to the disability community, such as an increase in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B funding of $1 billion (8%); $3 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Grants, $178 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level; and $245 million for Family Caregivers Services, an increase of $26 million above the 2019 enacted level. However, detailed line item information for most programs will not be available until May 8 when the full committee mark-up is scheduled to take place. While the House is moving forward with its spending bills, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said his committee will not markup any bills until a budget deal is reached to raise the spending caps for both defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. Absent a budget deal, NDD funding (which supports numerous disability programs) is facing a 9% cut in FY 2020.
On April 4, the House Budget Committee reported out the Investing for the People Act (H.R.2021) to raise on defense and nondefense discretionary (NDD) spending by $88 billion each in FY 2020 and FY 2021. If the spending caps created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 remain in place, non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding will be reduced by $55 billion (9%) compared to the current fiscal year. The NDD part of the federal budget includes education, housing, employment, transportation, Developmental Disabilities Councils, protection and advocacy (P&A) programs, university centers on disabilities, and many more programs. The vote was 19-17, largely along party lines. The bill was subsequently pulled before making it to the House floor due to disagreements among Democrats regarding the relative increase for defense and NDD programs.
On March 22, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) released a draft budget resolution for fiscal year (FY) 2020. The budget proposes to reduce the deficit by $538 billion over five years compared to current law, primarily through reductions in mandatory spending. Additionally, it provides reconciliation instructions for five committees to reduce the deficit by a total of $94 billion. To learn more about the budget proposal, see the committee website. Unlike the president’s budget, budget resolutions in the House and Senate can be enacted and have the force of law. While the Senate budget is not nearly as extreme as the president’s budget, it’s inclusion of reconciliation instructions is the first step to developing legislation that could change the structure and financing of the Medicaid program. The House would need to pass the identical measure for such legislation to be developed.
On March 11, President Trump released his fiscal year (FY) 2020 Budget Request. The budget proposes $2.7 trillion in cuts over 10 years, including cuts to Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act programs, and non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs. NDD programs – which include education, employment, housing, transportation, and more – would be cut by $54 billion (9 percent from 2019 levels alone). Throughout the week, more detailed department budgets have been released, including those for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice. These department budgets reveal drastic cuts for numerous disability-related programs such as:
- Office of Disability Employment Policy: -30%
- Developmental Disabilities Councils State Grants: -26%
- University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities: -20%
- Lifespan Respite: -25%
Though the President’s Budget Request does not have the force of law, it can set the stage for the Congressional budgets which follow. Click here to see proposed spending levels for disability-related discretionary programs in the President’s FY 2020 Budget Request. For more information, see The Arc’s statement.
On March 11, President Trump released his fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget. The budget proposes $2.7 trillion in cuts, including a cut of non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent below FY 2019 caps. The Arc will provide further analysis in next week’s edition of Capitol Insider.
On February 15, President Trump signed a bill funding the seven remaining appropriations packages for the remainder of FY 2019, which ends September 30. The passage of this bill means that the government will not be shut down over appropriations disputes until after that date. The Arc welcomes enactment of funding for the federal departments that administer programs important to people with disabilities, including the Departments of Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Transportation.